London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is crossing his fingers Harry Kane will be fit enough to feature in all three of his side’s high-profile fixtures over the next week.
The Premier League’s only remaining unbeaten team host West Ham United in the Saturday evening fixture and go into battle in another London derby at Chelsea a week later.
In between is a Champions League trip to Monaco, which will also present a thorough test of Spurs’ credentials at a time when a number of key men are absent through injury.
Kane has played just one match since being sidelined by an ankle injury in September, the 1-1 draw at Arsenal immediately prior to the international break.
He did not feature in England’s 3-0 win over Scotland in World Cup qualifying last Friday and was sent back to Spurs to continue his rehabilitation prior to Tuesday’s 2-2 friendly draw with Spain.
“The training during the week was good after he came back from the national team,” Pochettino said. “He felt a bit tired because training has been hard from Monday until today (Thursday).
“To play 90 minutes? We don’t know because we need to manage the next few games. We have Monaco and then Chelsea and we will see what happens during the game.
“But it’s true he’s in a good condition like he was against Arsenal when we decided he could play.”
Pochettino faces a similar dilemma with midfielder Dele Alli, who is close to recovering from a knee problem.
“We need to assess him,” said the Argentine. “He showed he is in very good condition. We need to analyse if we take a risk or not, or if he is on the bench and we protect him for Tuesday or next week.
“It was not a big issue. If not for Saturday, he will be available in the squad for Tuesday (against Monaco).”
– Bilic fronts up –
Defenders Toby Alderweireld and Ben Davies plus winger Erik Lamela have already been ruled out of the West Ham game on fitness grounds.
West Ham will arrive at White Hart Lane still struggling at the wrong end of the table despite suffering only one loss in their last six games.
Manager Slaven Bilic admits a side that qualified for the Europa League last season are still stuck in a relegation battle.
“We are 17th, and if you are 17th you are very close to relegation and we have to improve even more,” he said.
“On one hand, the worst thing to do is lose confidence and doubt yourselves individually and as a group.
“On the other hand, you can’t keep talking and saying, ‘The table doesn’t matter, we are a good team and we will click.’
“We need to win games because the other teams are also getting unexpected results, which are getting them points. We have improved a lot since the last international break.
“We took seven points from four games and beat Chelsea in the (League) Cup, were much better in every aspect of the game, clean sheets and a few good performances.
“But if we look at the table, we are still in a position we don’t want to be.”
Captain Mark Noble is suspended and a number of experienced campaigners still injured, but defender Winston Reid has been passed fit.
Striker Diafra Sakho, missing since the end of last season with a back problem, could be on the bench.
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